Venice High Takes On Mental Health


Students of the Peer Mediation class, courtesy of Alex Esparza and Germany Gomez

Alex Esparza and Germany Gomez

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the rise in mental health needs following the pandemic, Venice High offers numerous resources on campus to fight the stigma against mental health. 

“Mental health plays a big part in the way we act—the way we talk to people,” according to psychiatric social worker Rosa Escobar.

There are many places students can turn to for mental health advice on campus, including clubs, counseling at offices like Margaret’s Place, and different classes.

For example, Escobar provides on-campus therapy and support for students; she even can refer students to outside mental health resources. 

In her time at Venice, she has worked with many teens who have been struggling with their mental health, and she’s ultimately seeing growth in some kids. 

“It’s a process, and sometimes students finally feel like they can open up about what is going on with them,” she said. “You have to let them know that it’s okay to talk about what they’re struggling with.”

 “It’s going to be hard in the beginning, but once you develop coping skills, there is change that happens, but everyone is different,” Escobar said.

“I have noticed students change and grow, some even seeming a lot more cheerful and happy.”

Portrait of English Teacher Hazel Kight-Witham

English teacher Hazel Kight-Witham is also part of Venice’s mental health effort.

This year, she’s beginning to teach a class called Peer Mediation, an elective that prepares students to help others (and themselves) improve interpersonal skills. 

“Mental health is having the resources, support and skills to navigate the highs and lows of life,” she said. “And it’s something that we need explicit education in. And I’m glad that we’re starting to do more of that in Venice.”

In addition, Witham has worked with students around the school in creating a Peer Mediation Club that provides the school with resources people may need including mental health counseling, social worker support, psychiatric evaluations, student mentorship, and information for help hotlines.

Here are helpful resources to contact if you or someone is in need of outside of school mental health resources.

988 – National Suicide Hotline

741741 – Crisis Hotline

678678 – The Trevor Project Crisis Hotline for LGBTQ youth

435748 – Youth Substance Abuse Crisis Hotline